On Thursday, the Treasury Department issued a press release, called "Update on Status of Support for Housing Programs." Its fourth paragraph reads as follows:
At the time the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship in September 2008, Treasury established Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements (PSPAs) to ensure that each firm maintained a positive net worth. Treasury is now amending the PSPAs to allow the cap on Treasury's funding commitment under these agreements to increase as necessary to accommodate any cumulative reduction in net worth over the next three years. At the conclusion of the three year period, the remaining commitment will then be fully available to be drawn per the terms of the agreements.
Translation: No matter how badly things further deteriorate at these former government sponsored enterprises, both of which since last year in essence have become government-controlled enterprises, Uncle Sam (i.e., current and future generations of taxpayers) will cover their losses.
Here is how three different news outlets headlined this Treasury/Obama administration move:
Minimizing to nearly zero the possible relevance of the suspect's home country of residence and of the possibility that he might be affiliated with what one publication refers to as the "Nigerian Taliban."
The wire service's 11:04 p.m. report (not linked, as original was revised by AP), had this to say about the relevance of Nigeria in its 23rd paragraph of 26:
The Associated Press should seriously consider renaming itself "Associated Dems" or "Associated Leftists."
This morning, the AP's Charles Babington uncritically relays the latest Democratic Party talking point about its statist health care plan that has been passed in two very different forms in the House and Senate. The supposed point is that anyone who voted to create Medicare Part D in 2003 and voted against ObamaCare is "obviously" a flaming hypocrite.
Along the way, Babington ignores a Congressional Budget Office report response issued just before Christmas asserting that characterizations of the Senate's bill as reducing future government deficits are wrong. Beyond that, the litany of other distortions and errors in Babington's report is perversely impressive in its no-fib-or-spin-left-behind comprehensiveness.
Here are the first several paragraphs of Babington's babble, followed by its final sentence:
GOP lawmakers change tune on costly health plans
Democrats are troubled by the inconsistency of Republican lawmakers who approved a major Medicare expansion six years ago that has added tens of billions of dollars to federal deficits, but oppose current health overhaul plans.
Not to worry, Aversa said, because the fourth quarter is going to be really good ("[possibly] the strongest showing since 5.4 percent growth in the first quarter of 2006"), and the first quarter of 2010 will be okay ("growth will slow to a pace of around 2 or 3 percent in the first three months"). To be fair, she did entertain the possibility of a double-dip recession in 2011 in her 18th of 21 paragraphs. But of course most readers won't get that far, and most editors trimming her piece down will leave it on the cutting room floor.
Uncle Sam's Bureau of Economic Analysis today revised economic growth in the third quarter downward a second time. After originally estimating annualized growth of 3.5% in October and then reducing it to 2.8% in November, the bureau's "third estimate" issued today came in at 2.2%.
If that "third estimate" term seems odd, it's because this is only the second quarter the BEA has labeled its reports "first estimate," "second estimate," and "third estimate." Previously, the respective terms for the three monthly reports were "advance," "preliminary," and "final."
If you're thinking that today's BEA figure is bad news, you obviously haven't gotten the word from Associated Press reporter Jeannine Aversa, who after a brief "not to worry," seemed to wax almost rhapsodically over how great the current quarter and next year will be (a partial screen cap of Aversa's first six paragraphs is saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; bold is mine):
On January 1, 2009, the final 4.2% stage of a four-year, 21% cut in individual income taxes took effect in Ohio. State tax withholding tables reflecting the lower rates went into effect. Ohio employees began seeing a bit more net pay in each paycheck.
This past week, the state legislature, faced with an $850 million shortfall and threats of immediate school funding cuts by Governor Ted Strickland, repealed that 4.2% cut for both 2009 and 2010. Ohioans who had taxes withheld throughout all of this year at lower levels will have to make up the difference when they file their 2009 returns next year. They will also see higher state income tax withholdings from each paycheck all of next year.
Thus, Ohioans will be paying more in income taxes for quite a while longer than they would have if things had been left alone.
But apparently we're not supposed to call this a "tax increase," and a clearly retroactive one at that. No-no-no. According to Strickland, Ohio Democrats, a few alleged Republicans, the Associated Press, and Ohio's compliant establishment media, this is a "tax cut delay." Journalists are going to extraordinary lengths to avoid writing or uttering the words "tax" and "increase" consecutively. Is there a new stylebook rule against doing that?
Here's a roundup of some the reality-avoiding language used:
Longtime readers of Associated Press dispatches have long since learned that many of the most important facts of a story -- especially facts that put the government, bureaucrats, and leftists in a bad light -- are often found in its final paragraphs. This is a way for the wire service to boast that it really did report all important facts while usually ensuring that harried broadcasters and other users of AP content who attempt to digest it down to a couple of sentences will probably will leave the meaty and incriminating stuff on the cutting room floor.
Such is the case with a report on the arrest of dozens of Medicare ripoff artists in various US cities. While the details of the arrests are indeed important, the final three paragraphs of AP writer Kelli Kennedy's report are the real jaw-droppers, especially in the context of the president's and Congress's dogged determination to set a statist takeover of the entire health care system into motion before the end of this year (bolds are mine):
A breaking dispatch from the Associated Press sure makes it look like Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (picture at top right is from his Wikipedia entry) is engaging in extortion directed at the institutions of higher education that happen to be within the city's borders. The ostensible reason for the stickup is to shore up the city's foundering pension system.
It will be interesting to see how or if the AP develops this story in the coming day before the possible Wednesday vote.
Also, the "first-of-its-kind" tax that Ravenstahl wants to impose has gotten surprisingly little national notice since he first proposed it in mid-November.
Has anyone else noticed how chilling it has been during the past few days? Not chilly (though it's been that too). Chilling.
On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared, in the Associated Press's words, that "greenhouse gas emissions are a danger and must be regulated."
The AP, in the item just linked, and many other news outlets carried U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donahue's warning that regulations based on EPA's declaration could lead to "a top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project."
Two days later, in an item carried at FoxNews.com that says it was the result of contributions by Fox's Major Garrett and the AP, a White House official confirmed the legitimacy of Donahue's stated fear (bolds are mine):
Administration Warns of 'Command-and-Control' Regulation Over Emissions
In his coverage of Uncle Sam's November Monthly Treasury Statement released yesterday, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger reached the wire service's usual quota of errors and misstatements. But what's remarkable is that the AP reporter's article seems to betray a belief that the country is still in a recession. Fascinating.
Along the way, Crutsinger omitted the fact that November's deficit came in a bit higher than the Congressional Budget Office estimated several days ago, failed to report that receipts from corporate income taxes went negative for the second month in a row (i.e., refund checks issued exceeded cash collections), and betrayed more than a little lack of understanding of how the government has chosen to account for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Blogger Doug Ross got to the news of the Congressional Budget Office's Monthly Budget Report (PDF) over the weekend, quite accurately observing that the establishment news coverage of its content barely existed.
Two brief AP dispatches from December 2 and December 3 about Michael Toole, a Pennsylvania judge who has agreed to plead guilty to corruption-related charges, fail to mention that Toole has at least been a contributor to the Democratic Party, and appears very likely to have been a party member.
This see-no-party treatment parallels local media coverage of Toole's situation (four of many examples are here, here, here, and here). As far as I can tell, no one has directly identified Toole's party affiliation.
It wasn't easy to ascertain that Toole is a more than likely a mule. The best online evidence of his party affiliation consists of a March blog post at Sights on Pennsylvania identifying contributions by Toole to the Luzerne County Democratic Party in 2003. Whether Toole is actually a registered Democrat, or was until shortly before his legal troubles began, is supposed to be AP's and other journalists' job to determine -- and report.
The wire service refers to Toole as a "third judge" to be hit with corruption charges. As previously noted several times at NewsBusters and BizzyBlog, the other two, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, are definitely Democrats. The AP actually said so in an early dispatch about the pair's indictment in February, but removed mention of their party membership a short time later; graphic proof that this occurred is at the earliest related post at (here and here) at each blog. As far as I can tell, the pair's party affiliation has not since been mentioned in an AP report.
The coverage yesterday by the Associated Press's Stephen Bernard of payroll and human resources giant ADP's monthly jobs report for November focused on a relatively small reduction in the size of the decline in jobs lost and not on the fact that continuing to lose jobs is a bad thing.
That rhetorical sleight of hand enabled the AP reporter to tell us that ADP's reported private sector job loss during the month of 169,000 -- down from 203,000 in October -- was actually good news, because even though it was a decline in the number of people working, the decline of the decline "was not as much as forecast." The forecast was for 160,000 jobs lost.
Readers of a previous version of this post will note that I allowed myself to believe that Bernard had erred when he did not. I apologize for not getting that right. And here I thought I would make it through the whole year without a mistake. :-->
It's nice that the story of Rom Houben has recently made the news. I carried it as one of my own "Positivity" posts earlier this week.
A Google News Search on "Rom Houben Laureys" (not typed in quotes; Laureys is the last name of Houben's principal doctor) at about 11:30 p.m. ET came back with 1,528 results relating to the word of his amazing recovery and ability to communicate after 23 years of being "comatose."
That same search also comes back with 197 results questioning the legitimacy of his recovery. That number appears likely to grow, as the core article leading those results was only 8 hours old when this post was prepared.
From Brussels, the Associated Press's Raf Cassert gave voice to the doubters, while avoiding one of the real reasons why they're engaged in their doubting:
At this point, there should be little doubt that there is a concerted attempt underway to use the war in Afghanistan as a justification for punitively taxing high earners.
Last weekend (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the New York Times discovered that wars cost money. It cited Wisconsin Democratic Congressman David Obey's concern that funding the Afghanistan effort at the level requested months ago by General Stanley A. McChrystal would "devour virtually any other priorities that the president or anyone in Congress had."
Thursday, as reported by AFP (noted last night at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), House Democratic heavy-hitters Barney Frank, John Murtha, and (no surprise) Obey announced the "Share The Sacrifice Act of 2010," an income-tax surcharge that overwhelmingly targets high-income earners.
Now Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin has weighed in. Bloomberg dutifully carried his water, as seen in this graphic containing the first four paragraphs of the report:
You've got to hand it to the propagandists at the AFP. When heavy-hitting members of the party they favor announce an idea whose main purpose is, as the New York Times suddenly "discovered" last weekend, to remind people that wars cost money and distract from supposedly more important priorities, the wire service leaps into action.
Even AFP acknowledges that the tax proposal by several top-tier Democrats has no chance of becoming law. But again, that's not the point. Their proposal's purpose is to remind people that spending money on wars supposedly takes money out of the mouths of children and other living things, even those in non-existent congressional districts, and to attempt to make the climate for increasing taxes in the near future more favorable.
That the Associated Press's basement-level poll-cooking and poll-reporting standards are quite low, and quite agenda-driven, might as well be an article of faith by this time.
But the wire service-commissioned poll on health care, and Erica Warner's report on it (saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; HT JammieWearingFool via Instapundit; the full poll report in PDF format is here) plumbs new depths of partisanship while making errors of both omission and commission.
Warner and AP want the big takeaway to be that taxing "the rich" is the idea the public overwhelmingly favors to pay for ObamaCare -- never mind that the same public also opposes the plan itself.
What follows is a graphic containing selected paragraphs from Werner's report:
In the alternative universe known as Government/General Motors Land, you can:
Talk about how your financial results are going to be better than last year's and in the next breath caution that the numbers won't be comparable.
Inform the public that the financial information to be released on Monday isn't going to be prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and is going to simply skip about 3-1/2 months of activity that will apparently never be reported, even though your majority-owning government forces your publicly-held competitors and every other publicly-held company to prepare full-blown financial statements under those same GAAP rules.
Tell the world that you're a private company, even though the federal government owns a majority of your stock (in effect making you more of a public company than any other public company around), and thereby insist that you're doing the world a favor by releasing any financial information at all.
In the alternative reporting universe known as the Associated Press, you parrot these points without questioning whether they are correct, proper, or even less than fully transparent.
In a report that is so riddled with bias and factual errors it's hard to know even where to begin, Associated Press Writers Tom Raum and Andrew Taylor yesterday gave making President Obama look like a born-again deficit hawk their best shot.
The pair's work is partially saved here for fair use, discussion and in this case entertainment purposes.
The biggest error Raum and Taylor made was publishing the following "we wish it were true" statement:
The national debt is the accumulation of annual budget deficits. The deficit for the 2009 budget year, which ended on Sept. 30, set an all-time record in dollar terms at $1.42 trillion.
Well, Tom and Andy, using this readily available tool, if that's the case, why was the national debt on September 30, 2008 $10.02 trillion and then $11.91 trillion on September 30, 2009? That's a difference of $1.89 trillion, a whopping $470 billion more than the past year's $1.42 trillion deficit.
The answer is, sadly, that the national debt is NOT the accumulation of annual budget deficits, as shown in the graphic that follows:
In what is presented to readers of an Associated Press report as a done deal, the Netherlands will impose a mileage tax on drivers beginning in 2012. It goes beyond most if not all other government-imposed taxes in that it will charge more during so-called peak times or if a vehicle is considered a heavier polluter.
The abolition of two other taxes is apparently the mechanism for enticing the Dutch into acquiescing to this intrusive arrangement.
Media bias watchers will not be surprised to know that the AP's unbylined Saturday report saved the government's overhyped promises for the report's second-last paragraph, and the tax-detailing punch line for the final one.
Here are some excerpts (bolds are mine; I believe that "mike" in the first paragraph refers to "micrometer"):
After all, AP business writers Martin Crutsinger and Daniel Wagner did give us the facts about Uncle Sam's October Monthly Treasury Statement, put them into historical context, and told us that we face $1 trillion-plus shortfalls in fiscal 2010 and 2011.
But the pair missed a couple of receipts-related items that would have hit readers right between the eyes if noted, and would have indicated just how dire the government's financial situation has become.
The first omission: Collections of corporate income taxes were negative, as the government paid out an astonishing $4.5 billion more in refunds to corporations than it collected. The second: In a month mostly unaffected by individual estimated payments (these are normally paid in April, June, September, and January), year-over-year collections of individual income taxes were down by 29%.
Here are the key paragraphs from Crutsinger's and Wagner's coverage:
It's a development that I wouldn't wish on anybody, but one that the City of New London, Connecticut largely brought upon itself by pursuing and winning the Kelo v. New London case at the Supreme Court in June 2005.
Some "win." In what Ed Morrissey at Hot Air calls "a fitting coda to a chapter of governmental abuse," pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer is leaving the global research and development headquarters it built in New London just eight years ago.
The significance of the move should resonate nationally, because, as the Washington Examiner explains, Pfizer's original decision to locate in New London was driven by the City's promises to eliminate a nearby neighborhood -- promises which led to the Kelo litigation once residents, including Susette Kelo (pictured above), pushed back:
To lure those jobs to New London a decade ago, the local government promised to demolish the older residential neighborhood adjacent to the land Pfizer was buying for next-to-nothing. Suzette Kelo fought the taking to the Supreme Court, and lost. Five justices found this redevelopment met the constitutional hurdle of "public use."
The New London Day elaborates, while petulantly managing to avoid any mention of what has clearly become the local four-letter word -- "Kelo" (bold is mine):
Did you know that activist filmmaker James O'Keefe and partner Hannah Giles made only one undercover video showing ACORN employees willing to assist them in illegal and human rights-violating activities?
Absent prior knowledge, that's the impression you would have upon reading the Associated Press's coverage of the latest development in the ACORN saga, namely the raid on the organization's New Orleans office by Louisiana state investigators.
AP writer Cain Burdeau only mentions O'Keefe's and Giles's videotaping efforts in Baltimore. The fact is that the pair have thus far presented the results of their efforts in five other locations, and may have more episodes in inventory for other opportune times.
Here's news you can virtually guarantee won't get noticed by what remains of the establishment media.
Whole Foods (WFMI) announced its financial results for the quarter ended September 30 yesterday. The quarter closed about 50 days after outraged leftists called for a boycott of the grocery chain to retaliate for a Wall Street Journal op-ed written by CEO John Mackey. In that column, Mackey identified "Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit," asserting that:
The last thing our country needs is a massive new health care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction — toward less government control and more individual empowerment.
Well, if there's so much support out there for statist health care, you would think that the Whole Foods boycott dedicated to punishing an opponent would have had a significant impact on the company's most recent quarterly results.
Well, it only took them the better part of a year to pick up on what yours truly first noted in early February (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), and what anyone with eyes has surely known for months. But the Associated Press has finally acknowledged it -- or at least it's the first time I've seen the wire service do so.
In the eighth paragraph of their article covering October's auto sales, AP reporters Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin recognized part of the reason -- and perhaps the most important reason -- why Ford has been cleaning the clocks of General Motors and Chrysler all year long:
Ford has benefited from consumer goodwill because it didn't take government bailout money or go into bankruptcy protection, as General Motors and Chrysler did.
Though October seems at first glance to have turned out somewhat differently than the first nine months of the year for Detroit's sort-of Big 3, that really isn't the case:
Laurie Kellman, call your office, check your e-mail, and tap in to your Twitter.
The Associated Press reporter didn't get the memo that recession is supposedly over, and that at a minimum you shouldn't be writing as if it will be with us for a while. She also erred in citing the weak economy as a bad thing for Democrats. The New York Times told us about a week ago that a bad economy is a good thing for Democrats who want to pass state-controlled health care and other freedom-restricting agenda items, because a bad economy increases personal insecurity. They're such pals of the little guy, you see.
Both busts against the conventional media wisdom are in Kellman's brief item from late this morning (bolds are mine):
Health care issues: Hold off for a better economy?